When you look at the picture of Matthew Ferranti posing near the statues of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella’s castle at Disney World you realize what a character he is. Literally.
Ferranti is a character performer at Disney World in Orlando, Florida thanks to OCC’s affiliation with the Disney College Program. It allows students to get valuable, on-the-job experience in Disney’s parks and resorts while expanding their knowledge in the classroom.
Ferranti is a 2013 West Genesee graduate who learned about the Disney program after arriving on campus. “I saw flyers on campus about it, then attended a presentation. I was interested, applied and here I am!”
Ferranti is majoring in Liberal Arts & Sciences – Adolescence Education. He’s also a member of OCC’s student honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the History Club. Ferranti will graduate in the fall of 2015. He plans to transfer and pursue a four-year degree.
Helping people is very important to Nikolai Tillman because the generosity of others has played a critical role in his life. Tillman helps prepare meals for the Rescue Mission and is becoming a mentor or a “big brother” for the organization Big Brothers and Big Sisters. “Growing up in Brooklyn I used to go the Boys and Girls Club when I was a kid. It really shaped me and help me become who I am now. I know how important it is to give time and help others. You don’t have to give a lot of time. Just give a little bit and it will help.”
Tillman moved to Central New York before his junior year of high school, enrolled in West Genesee and graduated in 2013. He decided to stay close to his new home and come to OCC. “It was definitely different at first. The pace in this area is much different from what I was used to in Brooklyn. I made some really good friends and I enjoy it here.”
Tillman is a member of OCC’s student honor society Phi Theta Kappa. He’s majoring in Humanities and will earn his degree in 2015. He plans to transfer to a four-year college, major in Political Science and ultimately earn a law degree.
Dr. Richard Delmonico is a clinical neuro psychologist in northern California. He specializes in working with people with neurological disorders such as traumatic brain injuries. He’s proud of what he’s accomplished and equally proud of where he came from. “I often tell people I’m one of the few people you’ll ever meet with a doctoral degree who started at a community college.”
Delmonico grew up in Central New York and attended Liverpool High School where he admits he was a high average student who, “got lost in the middle of students who needed a lot of help and students at the very top.” When he graduated in 1975 he knew he wanted to go to college but didn’t know what he wanted to do.
Delmonico made the decision to come to OCC, and he knew right away it was the right choice. “When I graduated from high school I’m not sure I was ready for a four-year college. OCC gave me the opportunity to start taking college level courses, explore career possibilities and majors. My instructors were very interested in me and the other students. They were focused on building our confidence and abilities. It played a huge role in my development.”
Delmonico credits one person in particular with playing a critical role in his life: Father John Wagner, who was head of the Counseling Department at OCC. “He was so helpful to me. I owe him a lot. He helped me decide on a major, helped me begin looking at careers and helped me complete my applications for bachelor’s degree programs.”
Delmonico graduated from OCC in 1977 with a degree in humanities. The winter before he graduated was particularly harsh, and it drove him to apply to colleges in warm climates. One of those was the University of California, Davis, which is about 70 miles north of San Francisco. Delmonico was accepted and made the decision to go there sight unseen. Before attending UC Davis he had never been west of the Mississippi River.
Delmonico earned a degree in psychology from UC Davis, a master’s in clinical psychology from Connecticut College and a doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri. Today he is chief of neuropsychology at the Kaiser Foundation Rehabilitation Center, the regional lead for neuropsychology services for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, and an associate clinical professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the UC Davis School of Medicine. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Brain Injury Association of California and the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Neurological Society.
Despite the years that have passed since his time at OCC and his numerous professional achievements, Delmonico remains appreciative of his time here and its impact on what he has become. “OCC started me on the path to my career. It helped me gain confidence in my academic abilities. I’m not sure I would have had the opportunities I had in life if not for OCC.”
Lisa GreenMills found her passion while completing a college internship at Syracuse Healthy Start, a program focused on reducing health disparities and infant mortality in Syracuse. “As I was doing my internship I knew it was what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with women and children and help them.”
GreenMills grew up in an East Syracuse home where helping others was a way of life. Her mother Diane GreenPope was a nurse in the Army. She served in Iraq and retired from military service. She also worked at Crouse Hospital in labor and delivery.
GreenMills was raised along with a brother and a sister, but there was another brother she never knew. Before she was born her brother Brian died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at four months old in 1984. “Even though I never knew him, his death played a role in my interest in infant mortality and my desire to help others,” she said.
GreenMills graduated from East Syracuse Minoa high school in 2003. She came to OCC and majored in Mathematics and Science. GreenMills was an excellent student and was selected for membership in the student honor society Phi Theta Kappa. She was also active in the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, also known as C-STEP. Its goal is to increase the number of college graduates from both ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in technical-related fields and individuals from economically disadvantaged families who are interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, math, engineering and other licensed professions.
Drake Harrison is the Director of C-STEP and a huge fan of GreenMills. “There have been a lot of outstanding students that have come through here. Lisa in in the top five. She was an incredible student and an incredible human being. She was always volunteering to help people here on campus and in the community. If you want to pick a model of what a college student should be Lisa is exactly what you would want,” said Harrison.
“Mr. Harrison has been supportive of everything I’ve done, both from my time as a student at OCC and in everything I’ve pursued since graduating. He always checks in on me and I always visit him when I’m on campus,” said GreenMills.
GreenMills earned her degree from OCC in 2008, received a bachelor’s in nursing from SUNY Binghamton two years later and completed a master’s in public health at SUNY Albany. In 2013 she returned to Syracuse Healthy Start where today she is the Program Coordinator. The project supports pregnant women and new families with outreach, case management, health education and community connections. The work Syracuse Healthy Start does is very challenging and very meaningful. “I love having a job where I am helping people. Life can be so stressful as a new parent, but it’s wonderful to be able to support families and help them reach their goals.”
GreenMills lives in Syracuse and has a two-year-old son, Everett. Even though her days at OCC are well behind her, the memories of her experiences are still fresh in her mind. “When I was at OCC I was involved with organizations outside of my major and it kept getting me interested in other things. Whatever your goal is, it’s important to just add to it. Keep learning and having interest in new things. Having that mindset will benefit you. You’ll find new interests. I really loved being at OCC.”
The most popular freshman on campus isn’t a star athlete or someone with movie star good looks. It’s the Learning Center, the new home for OCC’s tutoring services. The Learning Center is located in the Gordon Student Center next to the cafeteria. It’s filled with spaces for students and tutors to work either one-on-one or in groups. “We’ve been thrilled with the response and the number of students who keep coming back,” said Kathleen D’Aprix, Assistant Vice President of Academic Support Services who is in charge of the Learning Center.
The main entrance to the two-level facility grabs your attention. On one wall of the lobby is a Learning Center sign which changes colors. On the opposite wall is a huge photo of Albert Einstein with the saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
The Learning Center employs more than 120 tutors and that number constantly changes. “We’re always adding tutors as we learn there are more and more courses students need help in,” said Ted Mathews, Coordinator of Course Specific Tutors. The tutors come from all walks of life: there are current OCC students, alumni, students and professors from nearby colleges, retired professors, retired public school teachers and people working in various industries. “We have a National Grid employee who works during the day and tutors at night in Electrical Engineering Technology and Mechanical Technology. He has the practical experience and can say to students ‘this is the why you need to know this,’” said D’Aprix.
The Learning Center isn’t just for students who need help. Sophomore Mathematics and Science major Nick Simmons (Skaneateles High School) comes to the Learning Center every day despite the fact he’s a member of OCC’s student honor society, Phi Theta Kappa. “It’s always quiet here. I enjoy the atmosphere. If it turns out I do need help with something I can find someone who can answer questions for me. I feel like my grades wouldn’t be as high as they are without the Learning Center.”
On this day Simmons needs help in calculus and he finds Corrine LaFrance (Skaneateles High School), an OCC sophomore majoring in Business Administration. She works at the Learning Center four hours a week and enjoys every minute of it. “I love tutoring in math. I’m very good at it and I enjoy helping others,” said LaFrance.
Learning Center administrators are working to add workshops to their list of student offerings for the spring 2015 semester. “We’re learning a student may be assigned a project which requires a PowerPoint presentation but doesn’t know how to create one, so we are designing a PowerPoint workshop,” said D’Aprix. Workshops will also be added to help students learn how to use Microsoft Word and thumb drives.
The Learning Center is open Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
OCC paid tribute to its student veteran community with a ceremony and open house on Veterans Day. The event was held in the Office of Veterans Affairs which is located on the first floor of Coulter Library.
College President Casey Crabill thanked student veterans for their contributions both to the nation and the College. “You are a huge part of the campus. Even though we only take one day out of the year to recognize you it’s a very important day for me personally and for the entire college. We owe you a huge ‘thank you.’ We wouldn’t be what we are if you hadn’t done what you did.”
Keith Stevenson is the Coordinator of OCC’s Office of Veterans Affairs. During the ceremony he read a powerful poem titled “It is the Soldier” by Charles M. Provence:
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us the freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
OCC’s Office of Veterans Affairs supports the more than 300 student veterans on campus. As a result of its outstanding service OCC has been named a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs Magazine for the fourth year in a row for “going above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education.”
Nick Simmons’ dedication to physical fitness unexpectedly helped him find his passion and become a standout student. By his own admission Simmons was a very average student when he graduated from Skaneateles High School in 2012.
Simmons came to OCC, started in a major which he didn’t think was right for him, and stumbled upon his future one day when he was working out at the gym. “A friend told me he was interested in physical therapy. At the time I didn’t know much about it so I started looking into it.” He realized he was very interested in how the human body worked and decided to take a biology class. “I loved it and changed majors.”
Simmons became a Mathematics and Science major and his newly found interest motivated him to excel academically. He became a member of student honor society Phi Theta Kappa, the College Science and Technology Entry Program, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, and the summer Bridges program which provides a five-week paid research internship in the Biological Science Department at SUNY Binghamton. Simmons spent part of the summer of 2014 there researching the effects of alcoholism in rats.
Simmons will leave OCC after the fall 2014 semester and transfer to SUNY Binghamton where he will study neuroscience. After graduating from Binghamton he will pursue a degree in physical therapy.
Bryan Sart’s plan for the future came into focus during a summer night on his back deck. It was 2010 and he was hanging out with his best friend Mike Hutchins, reminiscing about their time working together at Empire Vision in the 1990s. “We were both frustrated with the lack of common sense in the companies we were working for at the time. At some point we said, ‘We know we can do it better. Why don’t we?’” After trying out a handful of different names for their company, Mike suggested using Bryan’s middle name, Xavier. At that moment Xavier Optical was born.
Sart and Hutchins are lifelong friends. Both graduated from West Genesee High School together in 1987. Two years later Sart graduated from OCC. He started as an Accounting major but his adviser suggested he switch to Business Administration. “It was great advice. Ultimately it provided the foundation for where I am today.”
Sart started his optical career at Empire Vision and Hutchins joined the company a short time later. Eventually their career paths separated but they remained close. By the time Xavier Optical was created Sart had mastered all of the paper work and administrative duties that go along with running a business, and Hutchins had his opticians license. “We both had experiences which complemented each other,” said Sart.
Xavier Optical opened for business in 2011. It’s located in the CEO Building at 4914 West Genesee Street in Camillus. It’s a homegrown business which Sart says values its patients. “At chains you are a customer and part of their commission. We will never have commission. We do not have stores, we have offices. We reserve our time for you. People are our primary focus. We give a level of service the chains cannot.”
Twenty-five years after earning his degree Sart believes a lesson learned at OCC is and always will be timeless. “If you have a passion and can follow through on it, you can be a success.”
The bright glow emanating from the west side of campus is the newly renovated Nursing suite in Ferrante Hall. In the student learning areas, which resemble hospital rooms, most of the old and dark colors have been replaced with new and bright ones.
There are new nurse’s stations, sinks, linens for the beds, storage cabinets, tables and chairs. Even the woodwork and the flooring are new and bright. “The renovations are wonderful. It creates a professional environment for our students to learn in,” said Professor Susan Lamanna.
In between the two nursing suites is a renovated SIM lab. SIM stands for simulated patients. The SIM lab has doubled in size from two to four patients. They can be programmed to recreate any health condition, putting Nursing students in a situation where they need to respond. A simulated patient can be programmed to have seizures, heart attacks or strokes. Simulated patients can talk and take medicine. There’s even a new simulated mother who gives birth.
Assistant Professor Lori Murphy is coordinator of the SIM program. She’s also a registered nurse at Upstate Medical University Hospital. “Our SIM lab provides students with realistic situations to deal with in an emergency situation. It’s state of the art. It really does work. It makes students think through the process,” said Murphy.
In the hallway outside the classrooms is a beautiful 6 feet by 8 feet mural designed and painted by Nursing students. It portrays the story of students in the OCC Nursing program, from their studies to their work in the hospitals with patients. There’s a large syringe in the middle of the mural. Painted on it is OCC’s grading system for Nursing students which is done on the mastery program.
Assistant Professor Dianna Lewis-Brewster, with the support of Arts Across Campus, was the driving force behind the mural. Nursing student Victoria Magnotta was the lead artist. Magnotta will graduate from the Nursing program in 2015 but she also has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art. “I sketched out the drawing, scanned it into Photoshop, pieced it together and colored it. It’s coming along. We still have more work to do.”
Several of the students who assisted Magnotta graduated in May 2014. They returned to campus in October. During an open house in the renovated Nursing suite they were presented with plaques of appreciation. Lewis-Brewster organized the display of gratitude. “The mural is beautiful. Our whole area has an amazing new look which we are all very proud of,” said Lewis-Brewster.
Students enrolled in the Syracuse City School District’s Public Service Leadership Academy (PSLA) at Fowler spent part of election day at OCC and got a lesson in citizenship. A full day of activities were planned for the 26 students who attended including:
Political science interactive exercise with OCC political science professor Nina Tamrowski.
Overview and tour of the polling place in Mulroy Hall given by Sue Tormey, OCC’s director of government relations.
Tour of campus given by admission counselor Jason Barnes.
Leadership workshop and seminar led by Monty Flynn, director of special projects.
Tour of “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War Exhibit” in the Whitney Applied Technology Center Atrium.
Panel discussion on the Lincoln exhibit.
Isaac Ginty, a 9th grade student was impressed with his visit to campus. “I thought it was really interesting. I learned people vote on paper ballots now. I really enjoyed the Lincoln Memorial Exhibit. It was a great experience.”
The students’ visit was made possible in part by a grant from the New York State Council of Humanities. “OCC was excited to offer this opportunity to our partners at PSLA at Fowler. Our ongoing relationship with them and commitment to the students has allowed these unique and positive experiences to occur,” said Shannon Patrie, OCC’s Associate Vice President of Enrollment Development.
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